Seed Banks Catalog Brazil’s Food Past to Safeguard its Future

“We like to joke that the Krahô shot an arrow at Embrapa’s seed bank because they raised our awareness in the process,” says Embrapa researcher Terezinha Dias, who has coordinated actions on ethnoscience, conservation of genetic resources and promotion of food security with the Krahô people for 20 years.

“Companies would come already lobbying governments in each country so that local seed laws would ban the use of traditional seeds.” The result was the impoverishment of agrobiodiversity, with the extinction of many plant varieties and loss of cultural knowledge about species management, a process known as genetic erosion.

“Cashew nut behaves like an orthodox seed, so we are sending the first seeds to Svalbard; no country has sent it there yet,” Barbieri says.

“We keep the seeds at low temperatures, in tissue cultures [slow-growth test tubes], or [grow them] as plants in the field.” Beans, rice, corn and pumpkins produce seeds known as orthodox, which can be stored in dry and cold conditions, sometimes even for centuries, and still be able to germinate afterward.

In 2020, the Krahô Traditional Seed Fair was one of 10 initiatives awarded a 50,000 reais ($10,200) prize by BNDES, the Brazilian Development Bank, for good practices in traditional agricultural systems.

Original Link: